Strategic Planning Part 1: Are You Ready for 2014?

Strategic planning, 2014 style.

A New Year means a new you, right? So, why wouldn’t the same go for your business? The New Year provides an opportunity for folks to implement new goals for themselves, however it is equally important for businesses to do the same. Here we are, three months away from 2014 – which will be here before we know it. Now is the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t in 2013 so that you can plan proactively instead of reactively for 2014.

As a small business, how do you do this? First and foremost – this should be a collaborative meeting with your team. They are your most important asset for weighing what you would like to change in the coming year.

We usually hold our strategy meeting in October or November, and we make sure to unite all of our leadership team and essential parties from every one of our locations in order to hold the most effective meeting possible. It takes some serious coordination, but it’s worth it.

Inevitably, our meetings end with all team members feeling energized by each other and united in our common goals. Strategy meetings shouldn’t feel like a drag. One of the goals should be to get everyone on board and excited for the coming year – yearning to make your business the best it can be. So, start planning!

If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got some pointers:

Pull all data from 2013:

Get the financial numbers, leads, marketing campaigns, etc together so that all these aspects of the business can be analyzed by the team. This will provide a big, comprehensive look at the year and start the conversation about what worked and what didn’t for 2014.

Get input from your team: 

As I mentioned above, do not do this alone. Depending on the size of your company, this may mean gathering just your core executive team, or you may have some essential leadership from other departments that can provide valuable perspectives and input. Check in with them at the very beginning of the meeting and ask for feedback and concerns. Questions such as “What helped us succeed this year?” and “What will bring us even more success next year?”

Stay focused and positive:

It is easy to get discouraged by focusing on the things your company didn’t accomplish in 2013. While these are pain points that can spur you to action and give you that extra motivation, don’t let them weigh you down. These meetings are for looking ahead at what you can accomplish in the future. If you think it will be difficult to stay on task – hire a third-party to facilitate the meeting and provide an objective point of view.

Always go back to your company purpose:

Once the planning is done – take a look at your new goals and make sure they align with your purpose and strengthen your values.

You just might be surprised at what comes from these strategy meetings—new ideas, inspiration and motivation are just around the corner. Don’t wait! Start 2014 off with a boom.

We believe that strategic planning is so important that this will be part 1 in a 3-part series. Budget planning and staffing will be covered in the next two weeks – stay tuned!

Be sure to read our full 3 part series on strategic planning:

Part 1: Are You Ready for 2014?

Part 2: How to Prepare Your Budget

Part 3: Evaluate and Assess Your Staff

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